Freshman Sarah Daly recalls her time in the Girl Scouts of America as a troop member, mentor, friend and leader. She remembers that her local troop meeting room was the first space where she felt comfortable and confident.
“Girl Scouts is one of those experiences that never leaves you,” Daly said. “The skills I learned during my time there have stayed with me through my transition to Elon.”
Daly received her Gold Award, the highest honor in the Girl Scouts, shortly before being accepted to Elon University. She was an active member in her community throughout high school.
Chances are, many girls remember their days wearing the blue Daisy Sash, diligently selling cookies in front of a local grocery store. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, nearly 60 million women have participated in the Girl Scouts of America during their childhood.
This year, the Elon Community Church welcomed a new Girl Scout troop, 13214, made up of eight girls. They are a blended troop of Daisies and Brownies, meaning the girls are in first and second grade.
Troop Leader Rosie DeMario said most of the girls get involved because of the strong bonds they form with their fellow troop members.
“Of course they enjoy the badges, volunteer activities, cookie sales, but it really boils down to spending time with your friends,” DeMario said.
DeMario believes that a big takeaway from Girl Scouts is learning how to build friendships that can survive even when times are tough. She leads the girls alongside Troop Mother Hannah Hendricks in hopes of showing young girls that it is OK to be strong and powerful.
“I was disappointed to see the attitude toward female leaders and confident women portrayed through the media,” DeMario said. “I wanted to channel that into something good, something I knew I could do [to] make a difference, and Girl Scouts was a great fit.”
In addition to female empowerment, the girls of Troop 13214 learn critical life skills: how to manage money, speak in public and help those in need with creative problem-solving.
Most recently, on Saturday, Sept. 7, the troop participated in the annual Girl Scout Day at the Conservators Center in Burlington.
Over 500 scouts participated in the action-packed day where they joined in the fun to earn the Conservators Center Participation Patch.
The event was centered around wildlife and included an educational tour of the Conservators Center, which is home to over 70 animals. The center’s mission is to reconnect people with wildlife, beginning with the young members of the Girl Scouts.
“It gives the girls an opportunity to learn about the importance of conservation centers like this one,” DeMario said
Caretakers at the center shared unique stories about the animals, and informed the scouts about habitats, diets and how they can get involved to help endangered species. These experiences not only educate the troop on a variety of different animals but instill in them the importance of wildlife, and of course, female empowerment.
Experiences such as this will help these young girls prepare for a lifetime of achievement and give them the confidence to enter the workforce. This is the mission of current GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez, who recently spoke about the “limitless capacity of girls” at a summit in New York City.
Currently, Girl Scouts is expanding its programs in science, technology, engineering, math and education, which includes three new space-science badges.
Recent data from Forbes reveals just how powerful Girl Scouts can be: 58 percent of female representatives elected to the 116th Congress are Girl Scout alumnae.
At Elon University, collaboration with the Girl Scouts has involved cookie sales in Moseley Center, campus tours and celebrations such as the International Day of the Girl and Girl Scout Night. At these events, students are able to interact with and support the Girl Scouts of Alamance County, who are part of the Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont council.
Elon’s chapter of the Kappa Delta sorority supports the Girl Scouts as a part of their national philanthropy. Each National Panhellenic Council sorority supports a philanthropic organization through service and fundraising.
Each year, chapters of Kappa Delta across the country devote more than 125,000 service hours to working with Girl Scout troops in their communities.
According to junior Morgan Mathews, vice president of community service for Kappa Delta, working hands-on with the scouts in the community allows the members of her sorority to improve their leadership skills while also building meaningful relationships with young women.
Mathews said that the relationship between the Girl Scouts and Kappa Delta gives members of her sorority the chance to be role models. They are able to demonstrate the ability of girls to be leaders, empower each other and build organizations filled with confidence.
“Since the Girl Scouts will eventually be college women themselves, I think it is really important to build confidence at a young age,” Mathews said.
Mathews also said girls growing up in today’s society can be quick to judge each other, so it is necessary to encourage girls to build themselves up and appreciate the relationships they have with one another.